My parents, like many other first-generation immigrants, migrated to Australia from China in pursuit of a better life. They faced hardships that I will never have to experience thanks to the generational assimilation of Chinese immigrants that now solidifies me as a 'real' Australian.
As a privileged, second-generation, Chinese-Australian, something I've grown acutely aware of in recent years is the disconnect between the typical immigrant mentality and the deeply rooted racism in Australia. There is resentment held by settled immigrant communities toward refugees and other new migrants.
Like many other members of my community, my parents are not consciously biased. They are well-informed citizens who care about, and are deeply disturbed by, the injustice plaguing our world. But racism still pervades.
They know first-hand that being an immigrant in this country can be difficult, but they also have an internalised racism that makes them see new migrants the way many Australians do -- as a threat.
These divisions drag us all down when we should be working together to welcome and lift up other migrants.
Racism infiltrates the mindset of my community and makes its way into conversations around the dinner table; manifesting itself in small ways. These innocent microaggressions have become entrenched through political fearmongering and a country-wide contempt for the 'other'.
These offences often go unnoticed by my parents, who proclaim that no, they are not racist, but normalise and accept common misconceptions nonetheless.
The most common prejudice is that refugees are economic threats to hard-earned jobs or that they are national security threats. My parents and their peers listen to the false narratives bolstered by statistics flitting across TV screens and the harmful 'war on terror' rhetoric used by our leaders to incite paranoia.
The problem is that there is a distinct lack of positive cultural dialogue or easily accessible conversations to redirect this thinking.
Concern about new migrants is all too commonplace in my community as well as other established migrant communities. These divisions drag us all down when we should be working together to welcome and lift up other migrants.
I know all too well the difficulty of having conversations about anti-Muslim sentiment in a community that fails to acknowledge its own racism and remember its own experiences of discrimination. In today's climate of ethnic violence and religious conflict, established migrants should be doing everything they possibly can to promote unity.
We need to bridge the divide between new and old migrant communities through open dialogue, educational campaigns and programs that promote cultural and religious inclusivity. The disadvantage experienced by established migrants doesn't excuse us from action. We're in this too and we can create a new generation of acceptance.
When we fight racism, we do so for our migrant community but also for others who are suffering under the same weight of oppression.
Silence is not, and will never be, an option.
It is time to deconstruct the falsehoods that too often surround immigration.